Is my baby getting enough sleep?

My six-week-old daughter is only sleeping between six and eight hours a day! I've heard the average is between 12 and 16 hours. She is a really active baby, and dosen't let herself settle down for naps during the day. (Thankfully, the six hours she does sleep are at night.) If we do get her to sleep during the day, she wakes right back up after about 15 minutes. We can get her to nap maybe 15 to 30 minutes longer, but only if someone is holding her. She LOVES to be held (all the time, as my sore arms will attest to) but we don't want her to get used to only being able to nap while she is held. Is this normal? She is an extremely healthy baby in every other manner, but we are extremely worried about her lack of sleep!

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Robert Steele

Robert W. Steele, MD, is a board certified pediatrician at St. John's Regional Health Center in Springfield, MO. He graduated from medical... Read more

First of all congratulations on your new addition to the family! Sleep issues are some of the most concerning problems parents have throughout a child's life. Your healthy six week (now seven) old sounds like quite an active little girl, and I can tell you to rest easy when it comes to your newborn's sleeping habits.

You are correct that six week olds on average sleep 12-16 hours/ day, but remeber this is just an average. Many others sleep 20 hours/day and many (much to the dismay of the tired caretaker) sleep less than that. You are actually ahead of the game in that, your daughter seems to be getting the majority of her sleep at night. I can tell you there are many envious parents of three month olds that wish their children followed similar patterns. And you should continue to encourage this pattern so that she continues to develop good sleep habits.

First of all, it is great that she likes to be held all the time, but you will want to be sure she teaches herself to fall asleep on her own. It's okay if she falls asleep in your arms occasionally, but you should try to allow her to get sleepy in your arms but put her down while she is still awake. By allowing her to fall asleep on her own, when she wakes up in the middle of the night, she will have the know-how to put herself back to sleep. This is an important skill to acquire around three months of life when most children are beginning to be able to sleep throught the night.

If she does not want to sleep much during the day, it is okay especially in the face of her being healthy.

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